Category: tax

Are you a resident or nonresident?

If you came to US in 2014 or later, and had F1/OPT status for more than 183 days, then generally you are a nonresident. If one of spouse is a resident at the end of year, you can make 6013 election to be treated as full year resident and file jointly. If you have difficulty determining the right form to file, please contact me.

Personal Information

Please provide the following info for EACH person unless otherwise noted (new client or changed info):

  • First name
  • Middle name
  • Last name
  • Social Security Numbers (or Tax IDs), see ITIN in SPECIAL SITUATION section if no SSN
  • Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY)
  • Address (taxpayers only, not dependent)
  • Telephone number (taxpayers only, not dependent)
  • Email address (taxpayers only, not dependent)
  • Occupation (taxpayers only, not dependent)

Bank Information for tax refund or payment only (I do not use it for filing fee, new client or changed info)

  • Bank name
  • Bank routing number
  • Your account number
  • Your account type (Checking or Savings)

Last year taxes if itemized (new client only)

If I did not prepare your return and any of the taxpayers itemized last year, please list tax owed and paid to, or refund received from EACH of the states in the format.

  • VA: owed and paid $500
  • DC: refund of $300

Other carryover items (new client only)

Stock, investment interest expense, and other carry-over items, continued depreciation, etc.

  • Please provide last year’s return

Multi-states info

Please list where you were for the entire year in a format as shown below, accurate to the state or country. Vacation without changing state residency needs not to be listed.

  • 01/01/2018 - 05/15/2018 MD
  • 05/16/2018 - 08/15/2018 China
  • 08/16/2018 - 12/31/2018 VA

Income

  • W-2 wage forms from ALL employers for the year.
  • Pensions, annuities, and retirement plan distributions (1099-R).
  • Social Security benefits (SSA-1099).
  • Independent contractor and other miscellaneous income (1099-MISC).
  • Unemployment compensation (1099-G).
  • Schedule K-1 forms for Partnership, S Corporation, and trust income.
  • Alimony received.
  • Jury duty pay.
  • Gambling and lottery winnings.
  • Prizes and awards.
  • Scholarships and fellowships.
  • State and local income tax refunds (1099-G, only you have itemized).

HSA

If you have HSA (Health Savings Accounts), please provide:

  • 1099-SA or the amount spent from HSA. Zero is also an valid amount.
  • Amount you contributed yourself apart from payroll process.
  • 5498-SA if you have it (optional).

Financial Assets

Landlord

  • Rent received.
  • Advertising.
  • Auto and travel.
  • Cleaning and maintenance.
  • Commissions.
  • Home insurance.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).
  • Legal and other professional fees (tax preparation fee).
  • Management fees.
  • Mortgage interest paid to banks, etc.
  • Other interest.
  • Repairs.
  • Supplies.
  • Taxes.
  • Utilities.
  • Home Owner Association fees.
  • FIRST YEAR RENTAL: Rental starting date.
  • FIRST YEAR RENTAL: Closing document.
  • FIRST YEAR RENTAL: Land value near the rental starting date from the county website.
  • MIXED (RENTAL AND PRIMARY RESIDENT TOGETHER): Rental ratio.
  • PARTIAL YEAR AND MIXED: Specify expenses for what time period, for what space (entire house or the rental rooms).

Homeowner and itemizing items

You itemize expenses only when the sum is more than standard deduction which is listed below for Y2018. Generally you itemize expenses if you own a home, or have large deductible items such as donation, medical expense, state tax paid.

Filing Status Standard Deduction Amount
Single $12,000
Married Filing Jointly & Surviving Spouse $24,000
Married Filing Separately $12,000
Head of Household $18,000

The itemized deduction items:

  • Mortgage and home equity interests Form 1098.
  • Closing documents if in the year you bought, sold, or re-financed your home or other real estate (Closing disclosure, 1099-S).
  • Real Estate Tax, most likely on Form 1098 as well.
  • Energy property based on manufacturer’s certification document.
  • Personal Property Tax (car tax). In California, vehicle license fee is deductible, use this page to find the vehicle license fee. In most major metropolitan areas of Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties of Washington state, Regional Transit Authority tax (RTA excise tax) is deductible.
  • Gifts to charity (cash and non-cash).
  • Un-reimbursement expenses related to volunteer work.
  • Investment interest (margin interest).
  • Medical expenses (prescription, insurance premiums, medical supplies, eye exams, glasses, contacts, co-pays, medical transportation (miles), other) above 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
  • Long term care insurance premium.

Other separately accounted expenses

  • Adoption expenses.
  • Alimony paid.
  • Moving expenses (for military move only): if you drove, you can use mileage plus hotel; if you flew, the air ticket.

Child care

  • Name of the provider
  • Address of the provider
  • Tax ID or SSN of provider
  • Amount you paid

Education expenses of you or your dependents

  • Job related education expenses.
  • Education Mileage.
  • Tuition and Education fees: 1098-T, if box 1 (payments received) is empty also student account statement or bank transfer showing amount paid).
  • Student Load interest: 1098-E.

Self Employed Business

  • Business income (1099-MISC and own records).
  • Partnership SE income (Schedules K-1).
  • Employment Taxes and other Retirement Plan Contributions.
  • Auto loans and leases if for business use.
  • Auto repairs and expenses if for business use.
  • Entertainment and meals.
  • Job hunting expenses.
  • Lodging.
  • Office in home.
  • Professional dues.
  • Union dues.
  • Publications.
  • Research expenses.
  • Safety equipments.
  • Supplies.
  • Telephones.
  • Tools and equipments.
  • Travel.
  • Uniform and cost of cleaning.
  • Internet expenses if for business use.

Medical Insurance Documents

  • 1095-A, 1095-B, or 1095-C IF you and your family are NOT covered full year by employer’s health insurance.

Miscellaneous Documents

  • Last year’s federal, state tax returns (helpful but not required).
  • IRA, KEOGH, and other retirement plan contributions (if self-employed, identify as for self or employees).
  • Records to document casualties or theft losses.
  • Records for any other expenditures that may be deductible.
  • Records for any other revenue for sales of property that may be taxable or re-portable.
  • Federal, state, and local estimated income tax paid for the tax year.
  • Employment taxes and other business taxes paid for the tax year.

State specific deductions.

  • MA rent paid: the total amount for the year, name, address of the landlord.
  • MA 1099-HC (MA Health Care Coverage)
  • NJ rent for low income.
  • NY requires driver’s license ID, issuing state, expiration date, and issue date.
  • VA 529 plan contributions is a state deduction.
  • VA Long term insurance premium is a state deduction.

SPECIAL SITUATIONS

ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) applicant (the person who needs ITIN) only:

  • Country of birth:
  • Country of citizenship:
  • Type of US visa:
  • Visa number:
  • Visa expiration date:
  • Passport issued by:
  • Passport Number:
  • Passport Expiration date:
  • Date of entry into the United States:

Nonresident

  • Are you citizen of India (for US-India tax treaty)?
  • Are you citizen of China (for US-China tax treaty)?
  • What is your first entry to US [very first time as a student]?
  • What is the visa status (for example, F-1, H-1B) in each year?
  • If status changed, the date of change. For example, “10/01/2018 from F-1 to H-1B.”
  • How many days (including partial days) have you stayed in US in 2018, 2017, 2016?
  • Did you file last year? If so what form used (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ)?
  • How many months have you claimed US-China tax treaty 20(c) in previous years?

Foreign earned income exclusion

  • Your foreign address including postal code:
  • Employer’s foreign address:
  • Employer’s U.S. address if it has one:
  • Income earned in U.S. dollars:
  • Foreign residency first established?
  • The last year you filed foreign earned income exclusion (Form 2555):
  • Of what country are you a citizen/national?
  • Do you pay income tax to foreign country on the foreign earned income? If so, please provide document showing taxable income and tax paid.
  • Find a period of 12 months in a row starting or ending in 2018 during which you physically present in a foreign country or countries for at least 330 full days and which has maximum number of days in 2017, and list where you were and income earned in U.S. Example:
    • 11/01/2017 - 06/31/2018 in China
    • 07/01/2018 - 07/15/2018 in U.S., earned $0
    • 07/16/2018 - 10/31/2018 in China

Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (aka FBAR, FinCen Form 114, FATCA) and Form 8938

If meet the reporting requirement, please provide information on EACH of the accounts as follows:

  • Bank name
  • Address in English including postal code
  • Account number
  • Maximum value of account during calendar year converted to US dollars
  • Income (interest, dividend) generated from the account

Resident received more than $100,000 from nonresident to file Form 3520

  • A list of date and amount of gift

I hope this checklist helps you to prepare your tax documents.